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Guinea Pigs: The Right Pet for You?

Guinea Pigs with Book

It can be tempting to acquire a guinea pig on impulse. After all, these little guys have a lot of appealing qualities; they're small, gentle, and personable, just to name a few.
A great starter pet, right? Not necessarily. Here are some important questions to consider before you dive headlong into a relationship.

Where should you get a guinea pig?


Instead of creating more demand for guinea pigs by purchasing one from a pet store, please visit your local animal shelter to adopt one … or more! Most shelters now accept small animals who need new homes, and you will have the satisfaction of saving a life.

How much time do you have? 


Guinea pigs need time out of their cage every day. Whether this time is spent stretching their legs and exploring new environments or cuddling in your lap, daily interaction and attention are essential for a guinea pig's well-being.


Guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly. Shorthaired breeds can be maintained with a once-a-week brushing while longhaired breeds require daily grooming.


A guinea pig's cage should be thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis and spot-cleaned every few days. If you don't appreciate the smell of a dirty cage, consider how your guinea pig—who spends nearly all of her waking hours just centimeters above her bedding—feels about stinky living quarters.

Is a guinea pig right for your family?

If you're getting a guinea pig for your child, think carefully about how this animal’s care will fit into your family's schedule over the long haul.

  • Can your son or daughter incorporate pet ownership into a busy after-school schedule and evening and weekend commitments?
  • Are you willing to shoulder responsibility for your pig's care if your children drop the ball?
  • If you have other pets, are you sure your guinea pig will get enough attention?

Consider lifespan

Guinea pigs live an average of five to seven years. This lifespan is longer than many other small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, or rats, all of whom live only a few years. If your life is in transition, a guinea pig may be more portable than a dog or a cat, but remember that five years or more is a significant period of time.

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